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The Student Activities Finance Office reports that their new electronic system of student group reimbursements is working well, and they are not backlogged at the end of term for the first time in several years.

In the new system, which becomes mandatory on January 1, requires students to scan receipts and then submit PDF copies of those receipts electronically through a website. In addition, the original paper receipts must be submitted as a backup, at least for the next calendar year. Reimbursements in the new regime will be paid by direct deposit or checks will be mailed — students will no longer pick up checks in person in W20-549.

Some students have reported delays in the system, but “that is not the reality,” according to Kerri A. Mills, Assistant Director for Student Activities Finance. The office has been processing both traditional paper vouchers and new electronic Requests For Payment (RFPs) “within two business days of when they are received,” she said in an e-mail.

Mills noted several reasons why students might perceive delays in the electronic RFP process:

• SAFO will not process electronic RFPs until they receive the original paper receipts. Sometimes student group treasurers have not sent the paper receipts in a timely fashion.

• If the submitter “reopens” an electronic RFP to inspect it after it is sent, it will return to their inbox, and no longer be awaiting processing by SAO until it is re-sent to them.

• Students who want to check the progress of an RFP should use the “Find RFPs” function in SAPweb, http://web.mit.edu/sapweb.

Mills was unable, with the short notice given by The Tech, to provide statistics on the number of reimbursements processed so far during the term, or the average backlog, or the breakdown between electronic and paper requests.

Electronic system brings policy changes

With the new year’s requirement for electronic reimbursements, there are changes to the business rules that have been put into effect at the same time.

Most notably, descriptions associated with food purposes (for student events) must be much more detailed, in keeping with reimbursement practices in effect for purchases by all MIT units. The reimbursement description must include the date of the event and its location, the number of attendees, and the breakdown between students, staff, alumni, and others.

The new system also substantially lowers the dollar threshold for which a purchase order is required to pay an outside vendor (as distinct from reimbursements for costs incurred by students). Previously a purchase order was only required if the dollar amount was $5,000. Now purchase orders are required for payments over $500.

Requests for reimbursements for the UA Finance Board (Finboard) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Sunday night. Non-Finboard reimbursements have no global deadline — they are at the discretion of the individual groups and their treasurers.